Orwell in Cuba: How ‘1984’ Came to Be Published in Castro’s Twilight is a personal account of contemporary Cuba at a pivotal point in its history, with the Castro brothers passing power on to a new generation. We discover Cuba through the adventures, inquiries, and encounters of a Canadian journalist and writer trying to make sense of the current climate in Cuba and of how Cubans feel about the past, present, and future of their island. Orwell in Cuba is also akin to a detective story, as the author investigates how and why a state-run publishing house came to release a new translation of George Orwell’s iconic anti-totalitarian novel Nineteen-Eighty-Four, formerly taboo, in the year 2016. These two quests are intertwined in the book, giving the reader an unusual experience: that of following a suspenseful trail while at the same time becoming increasingly familiar with the Cuban people’s relationship to the regime, and absorbing a wealth of information as to how they succeed in coping with the island’s often challenging living conditions.
Born in Chicoutimi in 1983, Frédérick Lavoie is a writer and freelance journalist. He is the author of three nonfiction books, including For Want of a Fir Tree: Ukraine Undone (Linda Leith Publishing, 2018). In Orwell in Cuba: How ‘1984’ Came to Be Published in Castro’s Twilight, winner of the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award for French Non-Fiction, he continues his investigation of the many faces of humanity in troubled times.
As a journalist, Lavoie has contributed to many Canadian and European media outlets, reporting from more than thirty countries. Previously based in Moscow and Chicago, he now divides his time between Montréal and Mumbai. Lavoie is currently writing a book on Bangladesh. Donald Winkler is a translator of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. He is a three-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for French-to-English Translation, and has been a finalist on three other occasions. He lives in Montréal.